10 Tips for Nonprofits on Twitter in 140 Characters or Less
The 140 character limit for tweets is one of the most intimidating aspects of using Twitter to promote your nonprofit and engage with supporters.
It’s possible to go through three to four drafts of tweets before reaching the perfect balance of character count, information (including link or photo), and what I like to call “retweetability.” To jumpstart your brain into condensing your nonprofit’s content into 140 characters or less, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite tips.
The small thumbnail next to your Twitter handle provides followers and potential followers with an easy way to immediately connect your Twitter account to your organization. Be sure to use the most recognizable form of your logo to optimize brand recognition. Profile photo dimensions are 73 x 73 pixels, but you may upload images up to 500 x 500 pixels. For a complete guide on image dimensions on Twitter, check out The Ultimate Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet from The Financial Brand.
The quickest and easiest way to publicize your nonprofit’s Twitter account is to incorporate a “follow” button into your nonprofit’s marketing materials — newsletters, blog posts, website pages, and email signatures. Twitter provides an easy-to-use tool for building code to encourage link shares, follows, and hashtag trends.
Twitter lists are a great way to organize your nonprofit’s followers and potential influencers that you may want to connect with, regardless of whether or not you follow them. Lists can be displayed publicly or privately and can be modified, deleted, or updated. You can also “follow” lists that influencers, partner organizations, or your nonprofit’s board members may have already created. Twitter provides a step-by-step guide to help you get started with this helpful curation tool.
Create tweets that have the “retweetability” factor. One of the key features that Twitter is known for is the ability for other users to easily share information through a “retweet.” While Twitter offers the option to re-share a tweet directly from the original sharer, many people utilize the RT or MT feature to add their own thoughts to the original tweet. To ensure that the full text of your original tweet is included, limit the length of your tweet to 120 characters. This will give enough space for other users to include your Twitter handle along with RT or MT and encourage them to add their own insights to your nonprofit’s content — a great opportunity to jumpstart a conversation.
We all get tripped up by just how limiting 140 characters can be (it sounds like a lot until you start typing). Add in a link or a photo, and your character count for accompanying text is cut down to 118. Keep this in mind when crafting tweets and include text that gets straight to the point.
Twitter is definitely known as a trendsetter in the world of hashtags — and for good reason. The hashtag feature is a great resource to not only help you monitor conversations that your nonprofit may want to participate in, but also to help insert your nonprofit into discussions that your target audience is participating in. Users often utilize hashtags to index topics that they care about and to find thought leaders in the space. Ensure that your nonprofit is using hashtags as a tool to reach and engage with your target audience.
Nothing will distract potential followers more from your content than the overuse of hashtags in your nonprofit’s tweets. To ensure that your content is being seen by those with the most engagement potential, use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic. Include no more than two hashtags per tweet.
Hashtags are a useful tool for spreading information on Twitter. Creating a hashtag around an event or a campaign is a great way to rally support leading up to the big day. It also encourages supporters to follow conversations during the event and gives them an opportunity to continue the discussion.
Best practices for creating and utilizing an event or campaign hashtag on Twitter:
- Decide on one hashtag to use and make sure that everyone who will be promoting and participating on Twitter is aware of it.
- Choose a short hashtag that is direct to the point and represents your event or brand — for example: #sm4np stands for “social media for nonprofits.”
- Remind attendees of the hashtag frequently through your website and social media feeds. Encourage people to use the hashtag to track and participate in conversations during the event.
Google’s URL Builder allows you to easily add relevant tags to track where website visitors are coming from. You can add up to five different fields of tracking keywords to gain the most insight about the sources of your nonprofit’s website traffic.
Your organization may be toying with the idea of getting Twitter up and running, but are you intimidated by the platform? Don’t be. Think of Twitter as a tool to send short, specific information to supporters, partners, and like-minded organizations while reaching out to potential new connections. If you’re still feeling shy about jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, check out 5 Reasons #Nonprofits are #Intimidated by @Twitter.
Looking for more tips and advice in 140 characters or less? Don’t forget to follow @mediacause on Twitter!